UPDATED Oct. 21, 2016 with Johnson & Johnson’s response to campaign.
The animal rights organization sent a letter to the New Brunswick, N.J.-based company, urging it to put a stop to the use of animals for sales training and instead use non-animal methods such as a simulation.
PETA has long been involved with medical device companies, often buying up small stakes to get in on shareholder meetings and submit resolutions.
“No salesperson needs to watch a pig bleed out and die to see how a medical device works,” PETA senior VP of laboratory investigations Kathy Guillermo said in prepared remarks. “A sophisticated human-anatomy simulator – or even a simple video of a human surgery – would teach them all they need to know without harming animals.”
In 2005, PETA brought its “Give the Animals 5” initiative to J&J, looking to encourage companies to replace 5 “crude and cruel” animal experiments with scientifically validated non-animal methods. J&J petitioned the SEC to keep the measure off the books entirely, but was shot down.
After meeting with J&J leadership, PETA withdrew the resolution and agreed to work together to reduce animal use in the company, according to a PETA statement.
Those talks went south over the company’s use of animals in sales training demonstrations. In 2011, the group pushed a resolution to reduce animal use, especially during sales training. The parties went back and forth, with J&J arguing that it has written guidelines to ensure that the animals are treated humanely.
The SEC sided with PETA and the resolution made it into the books, garnering 4.7% of the shareholder vote. The animal rights organization filed a similar resolution in 2012, winning 4.4% of the vote.
Just 24 hours after PETA launched their latest campaign against J&J, the company responded, saying it will end the use of animals in sales training demos.
“Johnson & Johnson as an enterprise—across our medical devices, pharmaceuticals and consumer products businesses—has discontinued live animal use in sales training across our North America region,” it wrote in an email to PETA. “Further, we are working to discontinue this practice globally by December 31, 2016.”
“PETA welcomes Johnson & Johnson to the modern scientific era,” Guillermo said. “Pigs are wonderful, sensitive beings, not training tools, and there are far better ways for sales reps to learn how medical devices work in human patients.”